CD: Beirut, The Flying Club Cup

(4AD) 4 stars

On learning that New Mexico-born Zach Condon has turned his attentions from the Balkans to France for his second album, it's tempting to cast him as an InterRailing dilettante, scooting around Europe in search of musical booty and cursing Jack White for getting to Scotland before him. But his sense of joy is unmistakeably, irresistibly genuine, as his talent. Making good on the promise of last year's Gulag Orkestar, The Flying Club Cup (inspired by an early-20th-century hot air balloon race) whisks him into the visionary songwriting orbit of Rufus Wainwright and Sufjan Stevens. "What melody will lead my lover from his bed?" he asks on Cliquot, before unveiling one strong enough to do just that. Condon's rich, barrel-aged croon is buffeted by a whirl of brass, accordion, ukulele and Owen Pallett's fleet-footed strings, sweeping towards a finale so magnificently moving that the only correct response is a standing ovation.


Dorian Lynskey

The GuardianTramp

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